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c 



Fortune of the Republic. 



LECTURE 

DELIVERED AT THE OLD SOUTH CHURCH, 

Ma/rch 30, 1878, 



BT 



RALPH WALDO EME 




BOSTON: 
HOUGHTON, OSGOOD AND COMPANY. 

1879. 



r 



5^^X 



,.-5 



i^ 



» » •• 



Copjright, 1878, 
Bt RALPH WALDO EMEBSON. 

All rigfUs reserved. 



BIY>B8n>l, OAMBRIDGi: 

■TSKIOTTPED AND PBINTKD BT 

H- U. HOUGHTON ASD OOMPANT. 






FORTUNE OF THE REPUBLIC. 



/ » 



' It is a rule that holds in economy as well 
as in hydraulics, that you must have a source 
higher than your tap. The mills, the shops, 
the theatre and the caucus, the college and 
the church, have all found out this secret. 
The sailors sail by chronometers that do not , 
lose two or three seconds in a year, ever since 
Newton explained to Parliament that the 
way to improve navigation was to get good 
watches, and to offer public premiums for a 
better time-keeper than any then in use. 
The manufacturers rely on turbines of hy- 
draulic perfection; the carpet-mill, on mor- 
dants and dyes which exhaust the skill of 

the chemist ; the calico print, on designers 

1 



FOETUNE OF THE REPUBLIC. 

iu8 who draw the w^es of artists, not 
isans. Wedgewood, the eminent pot- 
•avely took the sculptor Flaxman to 
I, who said, " Send to Italy, search the 
DOS for the forms of old Etruscan Tases, 
ratei-pots, domestic and sacrificia] vea- 
all kinds." They built great works and 
their manufacturing village Etruria. 
an, with his Greek taste, selected and 
led the loveliest forms, which were 
id in English clay ; sent boxes of these 
1 to every court of Europe, and formed 
te of the world. It was a renaissance 
breakfast table and china-closet. The 
nanufactnrers made their fortune. The 
;rs imitated the revived models in sil- 
Igold. 

theatre avails itself of the best talent 
., of painter, and of amateur "bi taste, to 
the ensemble of dramatic effect. The 
insurance office has its mathematical 
llor to settle averages ; the iife-aasar- 



FORTUNE OF THE REPUBUC. 8 

ance, its table of annuities. The wine mer- 
chant has his analyst and taster, the more ex- 
quisite the better. He has also, I fear, his 
debts to the chemist as well as to the vine- 
yard. 
^ (^; Our modern wealUx stands on a few staples, 
and the interest nations took in our war was 
exasperated by the importance of the cotton 
trade. And what is cotton ? One plant out 
of some two hundred thousand known to the 
botanist, vastly the larger part of which are 
reckoned weeds. And what is a weed ? A 
plant whose virtues have not yet been dis- 
covered, — every one of the two hundred 
thousand probably yet to be of utility in the 
arts. As Bacchus of the vine, Ceres of the 
wheat, as Arkwright and Whitney were the 
demi-gods of cottoUf so prolific Time will yet 
bring an inventor to every plant. There is 
not a property in nature but a mind is born 
to seek and find it. For it is not the plants 
or the animals, innumerable as they are, nor 



. FORTUNE OF THE REPUBLIC. 






the whole magazine of material nature that 
can giv^ the flum of power, but the infinite 
applicability of these things in the hands of 
thinking inauy every new application being 
equivalent to a new material. 
\ Our sleepy civilization, ever since Roger 
Bacon and Monk Schwartz invented gun- 
powder, has built its whole art of war, all 
fortification by land and sea, all drill and 
military education, on that one compound, — 
all is an extension of a gun-barrel, - and is 
very scornful about bows and arrows, and 
reckons Greeks - and Romans and Middle 
Ages little better than Indians and bow-and- 
arrow times. As if the earth, water, gases, 
lightning and caloric had not a million ener- 
gies, the discovery of any one of which could 
change the art of war again, and put an end 
to war by the exterminating forces man can 
apply. 

Now, if lihis is true in aU the useful and 
In the fine arts, that the direction must be 





1 drawn from a superior source or 

\be no good work, does it hold less in our 

jsocial and civil life ? 
\(^ In our popular politics you may note that \ 
each aspirant who rises above the crowd, 
however at first making his obedient appren- 
ticeship in party tactics, if he have sagacity, 
soon learns that it is by no means by obey- 
ing the vulgar weathercock of his party, the 
resentments, the fears, and whims of it, that 
real power is gained, but that he must often 
face and resist the party, and abide by his 
resistance, and put them in fear; that the 
only title to their permanent respect, and to 
a larger following, is to see for himself what 
is the real public interest, and to stand for 
that ; — that is a principle, and all the cheer- 
ing and hissing of the crowd must by and by 
accommodate itself to it. Our times easily 
afford you very good examples. 

'^^The law of water and all fluids is true of 
wit. Prince Mettemich said, "Revolutions 



6 FORTUNE OF THE BEPUBLIC. 

begin in the best hea^ and run steadily down 
to the populace." It is a very old observa- 
tion; not truer because Mettemich said it, 
and not less true. 

There have been revolutions which were 
not in the interest of feudalism, and barba- 
rism, but in that of society. And these are 
distinguished not by the numbers of the com- 
batants nor the numbers of the slain, but by 
the motive. . No interest now attaches to the 
wars of York and Lancaster, to the wars of 
German, French, and Spanish emperors, 
which were only dynastic wars, but to those 
in which a principle was involved. These 
are read with passionate interest and never 
lose their pathos by time. When the cannon 
is aimed by ideas, when men with religious 
convictions are behind it, when men die for 
what they live for, and the mainspring that 
works daily urges them to hazard all, then 
the cannon articulates its explosions with the 
voice of a man, then the rifle seconds the can- 



FORTUNE OF THE REPUBLIC. 7 

non and the fowling-piece the rifle, and the 
women make the cartridges, and all shoot at 
one mark ; then gods join in the combat ; 
then poets are born, and the better code of 
laws at last records the victory. 
ijk Now the culmination of these triumphs of 
humanity — and which did virtually include 
the extinction of slavery — is the planting of 
America. 
, - . 7^ At every moment some one country more 
than any other represents the sentiment and 
the future of mankind. None will doubt 
that America occupies this place in the opin- 
ion of nations, as is proved by the fact of the 
vast immigration into this country from aU 
the nations of Western and Central Europe. 
And when the adventurers have planted them- 
selves and looked about, they send back all 
the money they can spare to bring their 
friends. 

Meantime they find this country just pass- 

* 

ing through a great crisis in its history, as 



^ 



i 



8 FORTUNE OF THE REPUBLIC, a 

necessary as lactation or dentition or puberty 
to the human individual. We are in thesei 
days settling for ourselves and our descend-' 
ants questions which, as they shall be deter- 
mined in one way or the other, will make 
the peace and prosperity or the calamity of 
the next ages. The questions of Education, 
of Society, of Labor, the direction of talent, 
of character, the nature and habits of the 
American, may well occupy us, and more the 
question of Religion. 

The new conditions of mankind in America 
are really favorable to progress, the removal 
of absurd restrictions and antique inequali- 
ties. The mind is always better the more it 
is used, and here it is kept in practice. The 
humblest is daily challenged to give his opin- 
ion on practical questions, and while civil and 
social freedom exists, nonsense even has a 
favorable effect. Cant is good to provoke 
common sense. The Catholic Church, tho 
fcrance-mediums, the rebel paradoxes, exas- 



FOBTUNE OF THE BEPUBLIC. 9 

perate ,the common sense. The wilder the 
paradox, the more sure is Punch to put it in 
the pillory. 

L / The lodging the power in the people, as in 
republican forms, has the effect of holding 
things closer to common sense; for a court 
or an aristocracy, which must always be a 
small minority, can more easily run into 
follies than a republic, which has too many 
observers, — each with a vote in his hand, — 
to allow its head to be turned by any kind of 
nonsense : since hunger, thirst, cold, the cries 
of children, and debt, are always holding the 
masses hard to the essential duties. 

t ^ ^One hundred years ago the American peo- 
ple attempted to carry out the bill of politi- 
cal rights to an almost ideal perfection. They 
have made great strides in that direction 
since. They are now proceeding, instructed 
by their success, and by their many failures, 
to carry out not the bill of rights, but the 
bill of human duties. 






10 - • FOBTUNE OF THE BEPUBLIC. 

^^ And look what revolution that attempt in- 
volves. Hitherto government has been that 
of the single person or of the aristocracy. 
In this country the attempt to resist these 
elements, it is asserted, must throw us into 
the government not quite of mobs, but in 
practice of an inferior class of professional 
poUticians, who by means of newspapers and 
caucuses really thrust their unworthy minor- 
ity into the place of the old aristocracy on the 
one side, and of the good, industrious, weU- 
taught but unambitious population on the 
other, win the posts of power, and^ve their 
direction to affairs. Hence liberal congresses 
and legislatures ordain, to the surprise of 
the people, equivocal, interested, and vicious 
measures. The men themselves are suspected 
and charged with lobbying and being lobbied. 
No measure is attempted for itself, but the 
opinion of the people is courted in the first 
place, and the measures are perfunctorily 
parried through as secondary. We do not 



FOBTUNE OF THE ^^^UBtii^^ f J«U|^<g[V^ 

choose our own candidate, no, nor anyotner 
man's first choice, — but only the available 
candidate, whom, perhaps, no man loves. We 
do not speak what we think, but grope af- 
ter the practicable and available. Instead of _ 
character, there is a studious exclusion of 
character. The people are feared and flat- 
tered. They are not reprimanded. The 
country is governed in bar-rooms, and in the 
mind of bar-rooms. The low can best win 
the low, and each aspirant for power vies 
with his rival which can stoop lowest, and 
depart widest from himself. 

The partisan on moral, even on religious 
questions, will choose a proven rogue who 
can answer the tests, over an honest, affec-. 
tionate, noble gentleman; the partisan ceas- 
ing to be a man that he may be a sectarian. 
■ The spirit of our political economy is low * 
and degrading. The precious metals are not 
so precious as they are esteemed. Man exists 
for his own sake, and not to add a laborer 



12 FORTUNE OF THE REBUBLIC. 

to the state. The spirit of our political ac- 
tion, for the most part, considers nothing less 
than the sacredness of man. Party sacrifices 
man to the measure. 

K We have seen the great party of property 
and education in the country drivelling and 
huckstering away, for views of party fear or 
advantage, every principle of humanity and 
the dearest hopes of mankind; the trustees 
of power only energetic when mischief could 
be done, imbecile as corpses when evil was to 
be prevented. 

^- Our great men succumb so far to the forms 
of the day as to peril their integrity for the 
sake of adding to the weight of their per- 
sonal character the authority of office, or mak- 
ing a real government titular. Our politics 
are full of adventurers, who having by edu- 
cation and social innocence a good repute in 
the state, break away from the law of hon- 
esty and think they can afford to join the 
devil's party. 'T is odious, these offenders in 



FOBTUKE OF THE EEPUBLIO. 13 

high life. You rally to the support of old 
charities and the cause of literature, and 
there, to be sure, are these brazen faces. In 
this innocence you are puzzled how to meet 
them; must shake hands with them, under 
protest. We feel toward them as the min- 
ister about the Cape Cod farm, — in the old 
time when the minister was still invited, in 
the spring, to make a prayer for the bless- 
ing of a piece of land, — the good pastor 
being brought to the spot, stopped short: 
" No, this land does not want a prayer, this 
land wants manure." 

" 'T is virtue which they want, and wanting it. 
Honor no garment to their backs can fit." 

VP Parties keep the old names, but exhibit a 
surprising fugacity in creeping out of one 
snake-skin into another of equal ignominy 
and lubricity, and the grasshopper on the 
turret of Faneuil Hall gives a proper hint of 
the men below. 
, Everything yields. The very glaciers are 



14 FORTUNE OF THE EEPUBLIC. 

viscous or regelate into conformity, and the 
Btiffest patriots falter and compromise; so 
that will cannot be depended on to save us. 
y How rare are acts of will ! We are all 
living according to custom ; we do as other 
people do, and shrink from an act of our own. 
Every such act makes a man famous, and we 
can all count the few cases, — half a dozen in 
our time, — when a public man ventured to 
act as he thought, without waiting for orders 
or for public opinion. John Quincy Adams 
was a man of an audacious independence that 
always kept the public curiosity alive in re- 
gard to what he might do. None could pre- 
dict his word, and a whole congress could 
not gainsay it when it was spoken. General 
Jackson was a man of will, and his phrase 
on one memorable occasion, " I will take the 
responsibility,'' is a proverb ever since. 

The American marches with a careless 
swagger to the height of power, very heed- 
less of his own liberty, or of other peoples'. 



FORTUNE OF THE BEPUBLIO. 15 

in his reckless confidence that he can have 
all he wants, risking all the prized charters 
of the human race, bought with battles and 
revolutions and reUgion, gambling them all 
away for a paltry selfish gain. 

. ^ He sits secure in the possession of his vast 
domain, rich beyond aU experience in re- 
sources, sees its inevitable force unlocking it- 
self in elemental order day by day, year by 
year; looks from his coal-fields, his wheat- 
bearing prairie, his gold-mines, to his two 
ocean^ on either side, and feels the security 
that there can be no famine in a country 
reaching through so many latitudes, no want 
that cannot be supplied, no danger from any 
excess of importation of art or learning into 
a country of such native strength, such im- 
mense digestive power. 

,^ "j. In proportion to the personal ability of 
each man, he feels the invitation and career 
which the country opens to him. He is easily 
fed with wheat and game, with Ohio wine, but 



16 FORTUNE OF THE REPUBLIC. 

1 his brain is also pampered by finer draughte, 
! by political power and by th© power in the 
railroad board, in the mills, or the banks. ^ 
This eleyates his spirits and gives, of course, 
an easy self-reliance that makes him self- 
willed and unscrupulous. 
^ I think this levity is a reaction on the peo- 
ple from the extraordinary advantages and 
invitations of their condition. When we are 
most disturbed by their rash and immoral 
voting, it is not malignity, but recklessness. 
They are careless of politics, because they do 
not entertain the possibility of being seriously 
caught in meshes of legislation. They feel 
strong and irresistible. They believe that 
what they have enacted they can repeal if 
they do not like it. But one may run a risk 
once too often. They stay away from the 
; ? V polls, saying that one vote can do no good I 

Or they take another step, and say one 
vote can do no harm ! and vote for something 
which they do not approve, because their 



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FOBTTJNE OF THE BEPUBUC. 17 

party or set votes for it. Of course this puts 
them in the power of any party having a 
steady interest to promote, which does not 
conflict manifestly with the pecuniary interest 
of the voters. But if they should come to be 
interested in themselves and in their career, 
they would no more stay away from the elec- 
tion than from their own counting-room or 
the house of their friend. 

The people are right-minded enough on 
( ethical questions, but they must pay their 
debts, and must have the means of living 
well, and not pinching. So it is useless to 
rely on them to go to a meeting, or to give a 
vote, if any check from this must-have-the- 
money side arises. If a customer looks grave 
at their newspaper, or damns their member 
of Congress, they take another newspaper, 
and vote for another man. They must have 
money, for a certain style of living fast be- 
comes necessary ; they must take wine at the 
hotel, first, for the look of it, and second, for 

2 



18 FORTUNE OF THE REPUBLIC. 

the purpose of sending the bottle to two or 
three gentlemen at the table ; and presently, 
because they have got the taste, and do not 
feel that they have dined without it. 
H The record of the election now and then 
alarms people by the all but unanimous 
choice of a rogue and brawler. But how 
was it done ? What lawless mob burst into 
the polls and threw in these hundreds of bal- 
lots in defiance of the magistrates? This 
was done by the very men you know, — the 
mildest, most sensible, best-natured people. 
The only account of this is, that they have 
been scared or warped into some association 
in their mind of the candidate with the in- 
terest of their trade or of their property. 
^ Whilst each cabal urges its candidate, and 
at last brings, with cheers and street-demon- 
strations, men whose names are a knell to all 
aope of progress, the good and wise are hid- 
den in their active retirements, and are quite 
out of question. 



FOETUNE OF THE EEPUBLIO. 19 

* These we mnst join to wake, for these are of the strain 
That justice dare defend, and will the age maintain." 

Yet we know, all over this country, men of 
integrity, capable of action and of affairs, 
with the deepest sympathy in all that con- 
cerns the public, mortified by the national 
disgrace, and quite capable of any sacrifice 
except of their honor. 

^ .' Faults in the working appear in our system, 
as in all, but they suggest their own rem- 
edies. After every practical mistake, out of 
which any disaster grows, the people wake 
and correct it with energy. And any dis- 
turbances in politics, in civil or foreign wars, 
sober them, and instantly show more virtue 
and conviction in the popular vote. In each 
new threat of faction the ballot has been, 
beyond expectation, right and decisive. 
' 'T is ever an inspiration, God only knows 
whence; a sudden, undated perception of 
eternal right coming into and correcting 



^ 




FORTUNE OP THE REPCBLIO. 

'thingB that were wrong; a perception that 
through thousands as readily as 
;hroiigh one. 

The gracious lesson taught by science to 
;his country is, that the history of natare 
first to last is incessant advance from 
less to more, from rude to finer organiza- 
the globe of matter thus conspiring 
Lth the principle of undying hope in man. 
Tature works in immense time, and spends 
ndividuals and races prodigally to prepare 
-new indiYiduala and races. The lower kinds 
are one after one extinguished ; the higher 
forma come in. The history of civilization, 
or the refining of certain races to wonderful 
power of performance, is analogous ; but the 
■best civilization yet is only valuable as a 
round of hope. 

Ours is the country of poor men. Her© 
is practical democracy; here is the human 
tace poured out over the continent to do itself 
■justice ; all mankind in its shirt-sleeves ; not 



FOBTUNE OF THE BEPUBLIO. 21 

grimacing like poor rich men in cities, pre- 
tending to be rich, but unmistakably taking 
o£E its coat to hard work, when labor is sure 
to pay. This through all the country. For 
really, though you see wealth in the capitals, 
it is only a sprinkling of rich men in the 
cities and at sparse points ; the bulk of the 
population is poor. In Maine, nearly every 
man is a lumberer. In Massachusetts, every 
tweUth man is a shoemaker, and the rest, 
millers, farmers, sailors, fishermen. 
5 "-h Well, the result is, instead of the doleful 
experience of the European economist, who 
tells us, " In almost all countries the condi- 
tion of the great body of the people is poor 
and miserable," here that same great body 
has arrived at a sloven plenty, — ham and 
corn-cakes, tight roof, and coals enough have 
been attained; an unbuttoned comfort, not 
clean, not thoughtful, far from polished, with- 
^ut dignity in his repose ; the man awkward 
and restless if he have not something to do. 



^ 



22 FORTUNE OF THE REPUBLIC. 

but honest and kind, for the most part, un- 
derstanding his own rights .and stiflE to main- 
tain them, and disposed to give his children 
a better education than he received. 

The steady improvement of the public 
schools in the cities and the country enables 
the farmer or laborer to secure a precious 
primary education. It is rare to find a born 
American who cannot read and write. The 
facility with which clubs are formed by 
young men for discussion of social, political, 
and intellectual topics secures the notoriety 
of the questions. 

Our institutions, of which the town is the 
unit, are all educational, for responsibility 
educates fast. The town meeting is, after 
the high school, a higher school. The leg- 
islature, to which every good farmer goes 
once on trial, is a superior academy. 

The result appears in the power of inven- 
tion, the freedom of thinking, in the readi- 
ness for reforms, eagerness for novelty, even 



FOETUNE OF THE BEPUBLIC. 23 

for all the follies of false science ; in the 
antipathy to secret societies, in the predom- 
inance of the Democratic party in the politics 
of the Union, and in the voice of the public 
even when irregular and vicious, — the voice 
of mobs, the voice of lynch law, — because it 
is thought to be, on the whole, the verdict, 
though badly spoken, of the greatest number. 
All this forwardness and self-reliance cover 
self-government; proceed on the belief that 
as the people have made a government they 
can make another ; that their union and law 
are not in their memory, but in their blood 
and condition. If they unmake a law, they 
can easily make a new one. In Mr. Web- 
ster's imagination the American Union was 
a huge Prince Rupert's drop, which will 
snap into atoms, if so much as the smallest 
end be shivered off. Now the fact is quite 
different from this. The people are loyal, 
law-abiding. They prefer order, and have 
Xio taste for misrule and uproar. 



24 FOBTUNE OF THE BEPUBUO. 

1^'' America was opened .after the feudal mis- 
chief was spent, and so the people made a 
good start. We began well. No inquisi- 
tion here, no kings, no nobles, no dominant 
church. Here heresy has lost its terrors. 
We have eight or ten religions in every 
large town, and the most that comes of it 
is a degree or two on the thermometer of 
fashion ; a pew in a particular church gives 
an easier entrance to the subscription ball. 
- \ We began with freedom, and are defended 
from shocks now for a century by the facility 
with which through popular assemblies every 
necessary measure of reform can instantly be 
carried. A congress is a standing insurrec- 
tion, and escapes the violence of accumulated 
grievance. As the globe keeps its identity 
by perpetual change, so our civil system, by 
perpetual appeal to the people and accept- 
ance of its reforms. 

The government is acquainted with the 
opinions of all classes, knows the leading 



FOBTUNE OP THE REPUBLIC. 25 

men in the middle class, knows the leaders 
of the humblest class. The President comes 
near enough to these; if he does not, the 
caucus does, — the prijuary ward and town 
meeting, and what is important does reach 
him. 
ti'jj The men, the women, all over this land 
shrill their exclamations of impatience and 
indignation at what is short-coming or is un- 
becoming in the government, — at the want 
of humanity, of morality, — ever on broad 
grounds of general justice, and not on the 
dass-feeling which narrows the perception 
of English, French, German people at home. 
^4fln this fact, that we are a nation of in- 
dividuals, that we have a highly intellectual 
organization, that we can see and feel moral 
distinctions, and that on such an organiza- 
tion sooner or later the moral laws must tell, 
to such ears must speak, — in this is our 
hope. For if the prosperity of this country 
has been merely the obedience of man to 



f 



26 FORTUNE OF THE REPUBLIC. 

the guiding of nature, — of great rivers and 
prairies, — yet is there fate above fate, if we * 
choose to speak this language; or, if there 
is fate in corn and cotton, so is there fate 
in thought, — this, namely, that the largest 
thought and the widest love are born to vic- 
tory, and must prevail. 

The revolution is. the work of no man, but 
the eternal effervescence of nature. It never 
did not work. And we say that revolutions 
beat all the insurgents, be they never so de- 
termined and politic ; that the great interests 
of mankind, being at every moment through 
ages in favor of justice and the largest liber- 
ty, will always, from time to time, gain on 
the adversary and at last win the day. Never 
country had such a fortune, as men call for- 
tune, as this, in its geography, its history, 
and in its majestic possibilities. 

We have much to learn, much to correct, 
— a great deal of lying vanity. The spread 
eagle must fold his foolish wings and be less 



s 



I 



\ 



FOBTUNE OF THE BEPUBLIC. 27 

of a peacock ; must keep his wings to carry 
the thunderbolt when he is commanded.* We 
must realize our rhetoric and our rituals. 
Our national flag is not affecting, as it should 
be, because it does not represent the popula- 
tion of the United States, but some Balti- 
more or Chicago or Cincinnati or Philadelphia 
caucus; not union or justice, but selfishness 
and cunning. If we never piit on the liberty- 
cap until we were freemen by love and self- 
denial, the liberty-cap would mean some- 
thing. I wish to see America not like the 
old powers of the earth, grasping, exclusive, 
and narrow, but a benefactor such as no 
country ever was, hospitable to all nations, 
legislating for all nationalities. Nations were 
made to help each other as much as families 
were; and all advancement is by ideas, and 
not by brute force or mechanic force. 
, In this country, with our practical under- 
standing, there is, at present, a great sensual- 
ism, a headlong devotion to trade and to the 



«. • 



* "lis. ' FOBTUNE OP THE REPUBUC. 

conquest of the continent, — to each man as 
large 'a share of the same as iie cau carve 
for himself, — an extravagant confidence in 
our talent and activity, which becomes, whilst 
successful, a scornful materialism, — but with 
the fault, of course, that it has no depth, no 
reserved force whereon to fall back when a 
reverse comes. 
r)l} That repose which is the ornament and 
' ripeness of man is not American. That re- 
pose which indicates a faith in the laws of the 
universe, — a faith that they will fulfil them- 
selves, and are not to be impeded, trans- 
gressed, or accelerated. Our people are too 
slight and vain. They are easily elated and 
easily depressed. See how fast they extend 
the fleeting fabric of their trade, — not at 
all considering the remote reaction and bank- 
ruptcy, but with the same abandonment to 
the moment and the facts of the hour as the 
Esquimaux who sells his bed in the morning. 
Our people act on the moment, and from ex* 



FORTUNE OF THE REPUBLl8^-J^ J' 

temal impulse. They all lean on some other, 
and this superstitiously, and not from insight 
of. his merit. They follow a fact; they fol- 
low success, and not skill. Therefore, as 
soon as the success stops and the admirable 
man blunders, they quit him; already they 
remember that they long ago suspected his 
judgment, and they transfer the repute of 
judgment to the next prosperous person who 
has not yet blundered. Of course this levity 
makes them as easily despond. It seems as 
if history gave no account of any society in 
which despondency came so readily to heart 
as we see it and feel it in ours. Young men 
at thirty and even earlier lose all spring and 
vivacity, and if they fail in their first enter- 
prise throw up the game. 
J The source of mischief is the extreme dif- 
ficulty with which men are roused from the 
torpor of every day. Blessed is all that agi- 
tates the mass, breaks up this torpor, and be- 
gins motion. Corpora non agunt nisi Boluta; 



30 FORTUNE OF THE BEPUBLIC. 

the chemical rule is true in mind. Contrast 
change, interruption, are necess^y to new ac- 
tivity and new combinations. 

If a temperate wise man should look over 
our American society, I think the first dan- 
ger that would excite his alarm would be the 
European influences on this country. We 
buy much of Europe that does not make us 
better men : and mainly iire expen s iveness 
whidbr-is ruining that country. ' We import 
trifles, dancers, singers, laces, books of pat- 
terns, modes, gloves, and cologne, manuals of 
Gothic architecture, steam-made ornaments. 
America is provincial. It is an immense 
Halifax. See the secondariness and aping 
of foreign and English life^ that runs through 
this country, in building, in dress, in eating, 
in books. *^ Every village, every city has its 
architecture, its costume, its hotel, its private 
house, its church from England. 
^ Our politics threaten her. Her manners 



FOBTUNE OF THE BEPUBLIC. 31 

threaten us. Life is grown and growing so 
costly, that it threatens to kill us. A man 
is coming here as there to value himself on 
what he can buy. Worst of all, his ex- 
pense is not his own, but a far off copy of 
Osborne House or the Elys^e. The tendency 
of this is to make all men alike; to extin- 
guish individualism and choke up all the 
channels of inspiration from God in man. 
We lose our invention and descend into 
imitation. 'A man no longer conducts his 
own life. It is manufactured for him. The 
tailor makes your dress ; the baker your 
bread; the upholsterer — from an imported 
book of patterns — your furniture; the Bishop 
of London your faith. 

In the planters of this country, in the 
seventeenth century, the conditions of the 
country combined with the impatience of ar- 
bitrary power which they brought from Eng- 
land, forced them to a wonderful personal in- 
dependence and to a certain heroic planting 



82 FOBTUNE OF THE REPUBLIO. 

and trading. Later this strength appeared 
in the solitudes of the West, where a man is 
made a hero by the varied emergencies of his 
lonely farm, and neighborhoods must combine 
against the Indians, or the horse-thieves, or 
the river rowdies, by organizing themselves 
into committees of vigilance. Thus the land 
/ and sea educate the people, and bring out 
i presence of mind, self-reliance, and hundred- 
handed activity.* These are the people for 
an emergency. They are not to be surprised, 
and can find a way out of any peril. This 
rough and ready force becomes them, and 
makes them fit citizens and civilizers. But 
if we found them clinging to English tradi- 
tions, which are graceful enough at home, as 
the English Church, and entailed estates, and 
distrust of popular election, we should feel 
this reactionary, and absurdly out of place. 
<iy Let the passion for America cast out the 
passion for Europe. Here let there be what 
ihe earth waits for, — exalted manhood. 



{ 



FOBTTJNE OP THE BEPUBLIC. 88 

What this country longs for is personalities, 
grand persons, to counteract its materialities. 
For it is the rule of the universe that com 
shall serve man, and not man corn. 
: • They who1&nd America insipid,— they for 
whom London and Paris have spoiled their 
own homes, can be spared to return to those 
cities- ^I not only see a career at home for 
more genius than we have, but for more than 
there is in the world. 

The class of which I speak make themselves 
merry'without duties. They sit in decorated 
club-houses in the cities, and bum tobacco and 
play whist ; in the country they sit idle in 
stores and bar-roomSyr And. baP Bt:=tdbgGgo, and 
gossip and sleep. They complain of the* flat- 
ness of American life^'" America has no illu- 
sions, no romance." They have no percep- 
tion of its destiny. They are not Americans. 

The felon is the logical extreme of the 
epicure and coxcomb. Selfish luxury is the 
end of both, though in one it is decorated 

3 



84 .^'IlftBTUNE OF THE REPUBLIC. 

'w4<ff' refinements, and in the other brutal. 
But my point now is, that this spirit is not 
American. 

Our young men lack idealism. A man for 
success must not be pure idealist, then he 
will practically fail ; but he must have ideas, 
must obey ideas, or he might as well be 
the horse he rides on. A man does not want 
to be sun-dazzled, sun-blind; but every man 
must have glimmer enough to keep him* from 
knocking his head against the walls. And 
it is in the interest of civilization and good 
society and friendship, that I dread to hear 
of weU-born, gifted and amiable men, that 
they have this indifference, disposing them to 
this despair. 

Of no use are the men who study to do 
\r\ exactly as was done before, who can never 
understand that to-day is a new day. There 
never was such a combination as this of ours, 
ftnd the rules to meet it are not set down in 
any history. We want men of original per- 





FOBTUNE OP THE BEP 

ception and origkial action, 
their eyes wider than to a nationality, — 
namely, to considerations of benefit to the 
human race, — can act in the interest of 
civilization; men of elastic, men of moral 
mind, who can live in the moment and take 
a step forward. Columbus was no backward- 
creeping crab, nor was Martin Luther, nor 
John Adams, nor Patrick Henry, nor Thomas 
Jefferson ; and the Genius or Destiny of 
America is no log or sluggard, b\it a man 
incessantly advancing, as the shadow on the 
dial's face, or the heavenly body by whose 
light it is marked. 

The flowering of civilization is the finished 
man, the man of sense, of grace, of accom- 
plishment, of social power, ' — the gentleman. 
What hinders that he be born here? The 
new times need a new man, the complemental 
man, whom plainly this country must furnish. 
Freer swing his arms ; farther pierce his eyes ; 
more forward and forthright his whole build 



86 FOBTUNE OF THE BEPUBUC. 

V 

and rig than the Englishrftin's, who, we see, 
is much imprisoned in his backbone. 

'Tis certain that our civilization is yet 
incomplete, it has not ended, nor given siga 
of ending, in a hero. 'Tis a wild democ- 
racy; the riot of mediocrities and dishones- 
ties and fudges. Ours is the age of the om- 
nibus, of the third person plural, of Tammany 
Hall. 

Is it that natiure has only so much vital 
force, and must dilute it if it is to be mul- 
tiplied into millions? The beautiful is never 
plentiful. Then Illinois and Indiana, with 
their spawning loins, must needs be ordi- 
nary. 
.^ It is not a question whether we shall be 
^ a multitude of people. No, that has been 
conspicuously decided already ; but whether 
we shall be the new nation, the guide and 
lawgiver of all nations, as having clearly 
chosen and firmly held the simplest and best 
rule of political society. 



FOBTUNE OP THE REPUBMO. 37 

c-j Now, if the spirit which years ago armed 
this country against rebellion, and put forth 
such gigantic energy in the charity of the San- 
itary Commission, could be waked to the 
conserving and creating duty of making the 
laws just and humane, it were to enroll a 
great constituency of religious, self-respecting, 
brave, tender, faithful obeyers of duty, lovers 
of men, filled with loyalty to each other, and 
with the simple and sublime purpose of car- 
rying out in private and in public action the 
desire and need of mankind. 

* 

Here is the post where the patriot should 
plant himself; here the altar where virtuous ' 
young men, those to whom friendship is the 
dearest covenant, should bind each other to 
loyalty, where genius should kindle its fires 
and bring forgotten truth to the eyes of 
men. 

Let the good citizen perform the duties 
put on him here and now.' It is not possi- 
ble to extricate yourself from the questions 



» y 



88 FOBTUNE OF THE BEPUBLIC. 

in which your age is involved. It is not by 
heads reverted to the dying Demosthenes, or 
to Luther, or to Wallace, or to George Fox, 
or to George Washington, that you can com- 
bat the dangers and dragons that beset the 
United States at this time. I believe this 
cannot be accomplished by dunces or idlers, 
but requires docility, sympathy, and religious 
receiving from higher principles ; for liberty, 
like religion, is a short and hasty fruit, and 
like all power subsists only by new rallyings 
on the source of inspiration. * 

Power can be generous. The very grand- 
eur of the means which offer themselves to 
us should suggest grandeur in the direction of 
our expenditure. If our mechanic arts are 
unsurpassed in usefulness, if we have taught 
the river to make shoes and nails and carpets, 
and the bolt of heaven to write our letters 
like a Gillott pen, let these wonders work for 
honest humanity, for the poor, for justice, 
genius, and the public good. Let us realize 



FOBTUNE OF THE BEPUBLIC. 89 

that this country, the last found, is the great 
charity of God to the human race. 
' America should affirm and establish that 
in no instance shall the guns go in advance 
of the present right. We shall not^ make 
coups d'Stat and afterwards explain and pay, 
but shall proceed like William Penn, or what- 
ever other Christian or humane person who 
treats with the Indian or the foreigner, on 
principles of honest trade and mutual advan- 
tage. We can see that the Constitution and 
the law in America must be written on eth- 
ical principles, so that the entire power of the 
spiritual world shall hold the citizen loyal, 
and repel the enemy as by force of nature. 
It should be mankind's bill of rights, or Royal 
Proclamation of the Intellect ascending the 
throne, announcing its good pleasure, that 
now, once for all, the world shall be governed 
by common sense and law of morals. 

The end of all political struggle is to es- 
tablish morality as the basis of all legislation. 



40 FOBTUNE OP THE REPUBUC. 

*Ti8 not free institutions, 'tis not a democ- 
racy that is the end, — no, but only the 
^ .* means. Morality is the object of govern- 

ment. We want a state of things in which 
crime will not pay, a state of things which 
allows every man the largest liberty compat- 
ible with the liberty of every other man. 

Humanity asks that government shall not 
be ashamed to be tender and paternal, but 
that democratic institutions shall be more 
thoughtful for the interests of women, for 
the training of children, and for the welfare 
of sick and unable persons, and serious care 
of criminals, than was ever any the best gov- 
ernment of the old world. 

The genius of the country has marked out 
our true poUcy,- opportunity. Opportunity 
of civil rights, of education, of personal power, 
and not less of wealth; doors wide open. If I 
could have it, — free trade with all the world 
without toll or custom-houses, invitation as 
we now make to every nation, to every race 



FOBTUNE OF THE REPUBLIC. 41 

and skin, wliite men, red men, yellow men, 
black men ; hoi^itality of fair field and equal 
laws to all. "Let them compete, and success 
to the strongest, the wisest, and the best. 
The land is wide enough, the soil' has bread 
for all. 

I hope America wiU come to have its pride 
in being a nation of servants, and not of the 
served. How can men have any other ambi- 
tion where the reason has not suffered a dis- 
astrous eclipse? Whilst every man can say 
I serve, — to the whole extent of my being 
I apply my faculty to the service of mankind 
in my especial place, — he therein sees and 
shows a reason for his being in the world, 
and is not a moth or incumbrance in it. 

The distinction and end of a soundly con- 
stituted man is his labor. Use is inscribed 
on all his faculties. Use is the end to wtich 
he exists. As the tree exists for its fruit, so 
a man for his work. A fruitless plant, an 
idle animal, does not stand in the universd. 



42 FORTUNE OF THE BEPUBLIO. 

They are all toiling, however secretly or 
slowly, in the province assigned them, and 
to a use in the economy of the world; the 
higher and more complex organizations, to 
higher and more catholic service. And man 
seems to play, by his instincts and activity, 
a certain part that even tells on the general 
face of the planet, drains swamps, leads riv- 
ers into dry countries for their irrigation, 
perforates forests and stony mountain-chains 
with roads, hinders the inroads of the sea oa 
the continent, as if dressing the globe for 
happier races. 

On the whole, I know that the cosmic re- 
suits will be the same, whatever the daily 
events may be. Happily we are under better 
guidance than of statesmen. Pennsylvania 
coal mines, and New York shipping, and free 
labor, though not idealists, gravitate in the 
ideal direction. Nothing less large than jus- 
tice can keep them in good temper. Justice 
satisfies everybody, and justice alone. No 



! 



I 



FORTUNE OF THE REPUBLIC. 43 

monopoly mast be foisted in, no weak party 
or nationality sacrificeJ| no coward compro- 
mise conceded to a strong partner. Every 
one of these is the seed of vice, war, and 
national disorganization. It is our part to 
carry out to the last the ends of liberty and 
justice. We shall stand, then, for vast in- 
terests; north and south, east and west, will 
be present to our minds, and our vote will 
be as if they voted, and we shall know that 
our vote secures the foundations of the state, 
good-will, liberty and security of traffic and 
of production, and mutual increase of good- 
wiU in the great interests. 
' • Our helm is given up to a better guidance 
than our own; the course of events is quite 
too strong for any helmsman, and our little 
wherry is taken in tow by the ship of the 
great Admiral which knows the way, and has 
the force to draw men and states and planets 
to their good. 

Such and so potent is this high method by 



44 FORTUNE OF THE BEPUBUC. 

which the Divine Providence sends the chief- 
est benefits under thqpnask of calamities, that 
I do not think we shall by any perverse in- 
genuity prevent the blessing. 

In seeing this guidance of events, in seeing 
this felicity without example that has rested 
on the Union thus far, I find new confidence 
for the future. I could heartily wish that our 
vdll and endeavor were more active parties 
to the work. But I see in all directions the 
light breaking. Trade and government will 
not alone be the favored aims of mankind, 
but every useful, every elegant art, every 
exercise of imagination, the height of reason, 
the noblest affection, the purest religion will 
find their home in our institutions, and write 
our laws for the benefit of men. 



? 



YA OlOOi